Kathmandu departure (14th day!)
This is the earliest day realistically that you can take a return flight. You’re welcome to stay longer however to enjoy the city’s sights. Some sights were damaged by the earthquake and many not. To get a better idea of how it is, please read the report made by our friend Roland Hunter about the condition of the temples. He checked in May. Since that time much clearing and reconstruction has been done.
Day 13. Return to Kathmandu (Drive)
An early 6:30am breakfast start for this 7:30am bus ride to reach Kathmandu before rush hour, with a very short lunch stop on the way.
The hotel has a pool, but the water would be pretty cold for a morning swim.
Stage 7 – Bimtang to Dharapani
A final long day. From the gorgeous flat ground of Bimtang with its mountain views, we plunge along a technical forested trail with a lot of descent. The start is always cold in Bimtang. The place is surrounded by mountains and glaciers – the cold air sinks from the pass you crossed yesterday. The sun arrives around 8:30am but by then you’ll be long gone.
A stage of mainly downhill & oxygen – some supremely runnable trails, through gorgeous forest and a growing, turquoise torrent. The stage used to be longer, but the 22km allows you to let it rip for the final enjoyable stage and a finish in warm sunlight.
Beyond the small village of Tilije, we drop on to a jeep track to Dharapani where we meet the trekkers on the Annapurna Circuit.
— The End —
Almost! When we’ve gathered everyone, we will take jeeps and drive some four or five hours to the evening’s hotel in Besisahar. It’s a long, hard drive (on an impressive but very rough road) but worth it as hot showers and clean linen will await you on arrival.
Hike / run Samdo to Bimtang
The views are incredible from this route and this is the last day up high. Previously we’ve walked this stage and continue with the decision not to race it. If you’re strong you can feel free to run it at your own pace, or in a group of similarly able runners. Equally, it is a great day to go steady and enjoy the scenery. It’s a long stage with a 5160m pass in it. We start very early to allow staff, porters and any competitor who is not at peak fitness to cross with daylight to spare. Some people will complete the route by 11am, many by 2pm and others moving slowly by 5pm.
Day 10 – Rest/Walking – Samdo – Tibetan Border – Samdo
Today is a partial rest day, at least a day off from running in this tough schedule. Those with the energy are invited to walk up to the border, the Rui La, at 4998m between Nepal and Tibet. It’s quite a long walk but we’ll take it easy. We may see a yak caravan on the way. The view from here is memorable. Bring prayer flags.
It is possible to do a shorter walk with less climb too which also gives great views of the valley of the “1800 River” or a shorter still hike up the hill behind Samdo for those needing to conserve energy. The aim is to reach a higher altitude to increase your acclimatisation further.
There should be electricity (5pm-10pm) and WIFI in Samdo, though, as with other places, the electricity supply can be erratic, coming at half power or not at all. Do your charging in Sama if you can.
Stage 6 – Samagaon to Samdo
But not your run! In 2013 for the first time we organised the Sama mini-marathon, a race through the village for around 50 children from the Samagaon school. Amazing fun! We’ve continued to work with the school since and it is a lot of fun.
Prize giving out of the way, it is time for your run, the shortest day of all but reaching 3800m, so still hard work. First a group photo, and then…
…a little bit of fun…
So today is a relatively easy day with a chance to run with some speed. The trail climbs only 400m on long gentle slopes with easily runnable trails.
Stage 5 – Samagaun ~ Manaslu Base Camp ~ Samagaun
Anna Frost looked happy in 2013! Today is a bright an early start to marvel at sunrise on Manalsu (cloud dependent) and after a leisurely breakfast, comes the run.
After a kilometre of fairly level but rising trail, we turn off to head towards Manaslu Base Camp. The height of the checkpoint will depend on the weather (and snow line) and the state of the group and will be decided in advance of the day. Where we will reach however is point with an excellent view over Manaslu’s glacier and the turquoise Birendra Tal (lake named after a former king) it spills into. Then we return to Sama for a second night after this short but powerful stage.
The approximate course profile is here:
Stage 4 – Hinang to Samagaon
Again there’s a downhill start to the day. We reach Sho and the trail levels out. There is a short climb up to Lho, a village with a huge monastery and an awesome view of Manaslu. We’ll make a climb up to Syala (3,500m) for a water point before leaving the main trail again to climb up to Pungyen Gompa where there will be a checkpoint (and another astonishing view) before descending again to Samagaon, the main village in this area called Nubri.
This is possibly the closest village in the world to an 8000m peak, which stands less than 5km away. Manaslu is also known locally as Mount Pungyen which can be roughly translated as “ornamental heap”. You’ll be able to find your own term of endearment for Manaslu.
You can see a video of the hike up to Pungyen here:
Villagers and western pilgrims hike to a Buddhist monastery near Samagoan, Nepal (near the Tibetan border).
Stage 3 – Pewa – Hinang Gompa
Today’s start will be flat for the first 30 seconds. We descend to the river and cross a bridge (walking please!) and then it’s an uphill again to reach a high traverse that follows the river’s course. We’ll pass Bihi, Ghap and then have a long climb (through beautiful old growth forest) to Namrung before climbing again steeply and briefly to Hinang.
This gompa is partially newly rebuilt and the old Gompa is very near by (go for a walk and see it). It lies at the foot of Himal Chuli. Nang, or Himal Chuli glacier is just a short-ish walk from the Gompa. Hinang is another open, living and vibrant monastery with about 30 monks normally living there though at the time we visit many of the younger monks will have left for winter study in Kathmandu. Few visitors come here and they will be happy to see us.
Stage 2 – Tatopani to Pewa
Again today we’re following the course of the river with short climbs and descents. The rice paddy fields will disappear to be replaced by millet, barley and maize. We run through Jagat, a pretty village with a paved main square, stopping briefly at a checkpoint. From Philim onwards we reach pine forest and from here on Buddhist culture dominates. We’ll see more Buddhist stupas and chortens along the trail.
GPS data to be updated.